I came across an article in Forbes by CEO of ConnectAndSell Shawn Mclaren that makes a number of assertions that Social is not an integral part of the sales cycle. While it made some strong emotional connections between selling and personal conversation, Meteor data shows- contrary to the claims made by Mr. Mclaren, that social is not only a good indicator of purchase intent, but is also a great way to reach an audience who is either already or more likely to engage with your brand/product (and more likely to convert into a sale). Enabling social to be a powerful driver of targeted traffic and interest for your brand or product is just smart business.
I agree with Mclaren that sales are built through personal connections. Our experience shows driving authentic interactions with your audience through social and understanding what content they respond to through sophisticated metrics will drive increased engagement and make connections with current and future customers and ultimately, more sales.
Mclaren indicated that, “ [social consumers] do their own product research and make up their minds based on trusted blog posts, tweets and retweets, “likes” from their peers and the wisdom of the their favorite crowd.” While social consumers do look to their network for insight, often social can lead to discovery, not just validation. Social is a generator of traffic just as search ads, and display ads are- and often lead to interaction with owned content (if you are doing it right).
Meteor’s data and vast experience has shown Word of Mouth (WOM) traffic (traffic that shares or clicks on a shared link) is, on average, 2-4x more likely to convert than other traffic. Social is vitally important. Clear calls to share on your site, and incentives to do so, drive increased traffic that is targeted- and therefore more likely to be interested and more likely to engage. Let’s be clear, Incenting to share is not the same as incentivized leads, its encouraging the bird in your hand to bring in those two other birds in the bush.
Mclaren suggests that enterprise web 2.0 interaction is through “establishing your online persona, offering relevant and timely information and watchfully waiting until the prospect has given permission for a live conversation.” While I agree that establishing an online presence is vital to the success of businesses these days, and knowing who you are as a company is as important now as it always has been as is providing potential consumers with relevant information. If you measure engagement, you should be able to make these social interactions come to fruition without “waiting” but with actively optimizing based on engagement metrics.
Social’s success formula is simple – reach users where they are with content that’s relevant to them. Yes, that content can be a tweet about the weather, or video about a cat- but it could also be a link to your site’s press release about a product roll out. Shares of your owned content will create not only buzz, but also traffic. This traffic is coming to you (pull) and seeing your site, lead form, order form, and may drive more sharing (push), more traffic (pull) and conversions ($$$). Low hanging fruit can be just as ripe, and neglecting it will leave money on the table.